Glory Alozie apologises for choosing Spain over Nigeria
AFN frustrated me to join Portugal, says Obikwelu
Nigerian-born Spanish sprinter, Glory Alozie has pleaded with Nigerians to forgive her for the decision to change allegiance shortly after the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. To make up for that, she has promised to produce another top sprinter that can win an Olympic gold medal for the nation in a short time.
Alozie spoke in Lagos yesterday, just as Nigerian-born Portuguese sprinter, Francis Obikwelu, revealed that officials of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) frustrated him into changing nationality.
The duo of Alozie and Obikwelu, alongside two Nigerian former Olympians, Uchenna Emedolu and Deji Aliu, are currently in Lagos for a revolutionary grassroots athletics development programme, tagged ‘Making of Champions’, which has been moving round the country, hunting for young athletes that can win medals for Nigeria at the Olympic Games.
After the Ibadan, Enugu and Benin City legs of the programme, the final leg of ‘Making of Champions’ talent hunt will hold at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos from October 1 to 3.
Over 350 athletes from all parts of the country are taking part in the programme.
Speaking yesterday, Alozie said her youthfulness, as well as the pressure from her club mates in Valencia was responsible for her decision to dump Nigeria for Spain.
I am not happy that I dumped Nigeria for Spain. I didn’t really know the implication of that action until much later. I joined a club in Valencia as a junior athlete and the people really liked me. My club mates were always telling me to join them, which I eventually did. It was after I took the decision that stories started coming out, but it was too late to make a U-turn. I am sorry for taking such a decision, but I am back to make up for it.
I will produce another Glory Alozie for Nigeria through the ‘Making of Champions’ project. I am not happy that the record of 12.44 seconds, which I set in 100m hurdles, still stands unbroken in Nigeria till today. I am happy Blessing Okagbare was able to break the 10.90 seconds I set in the 100m. We can do it again if everyone joins hand with Bambo Akanni to make this ‘Making of Champions’ project better,” Alozie said.
On his part, Obikwelu hinted that he was frustrated out of the country by AFN officials through the unjust treatment he received during and after the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
I wasn’t happy dumping Nigeria for Portugal,” Obikwelu began. “I was ranked World number two best sprinter at Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. During the Games, I told AFN officials that I had a knee problem, but they said I was lying. I forced myself to run up till the semifinal and in the process, did more harm to my knee. Nobody in AFN was talking to me. I went to the doctor who confirmed that I had to go for a knee operation to save my athletics career. I went to Canada on my own for the operation and returned to Nigeria on crutches. I went to AFN and was told that money had been approved for me, but they didn’t know where the money was. You can see the frustration I went through. I had to go to Portugal. I bear no grudge against any one and Nigeria still remains my country,” Obikwelu said.
Meanwhile, registration for the last leg of ‘Making of Champions’ talent hunt project in Lagos will close today, according to the Chief Executive Officer of the event, Bambo Akani.
He said yesterday that he decided to begin the project after Nigeria returned from the London 2012 Olympics Games without a single medal. “It is our believe that Nigeria has so much talents to rule athletics at the Olympic Games. Many People may say that one year is not enough to produce a medallist at the Olympic Games, but from what we have at the moment, I am sure we can get it. All we need is partnership from corporate bodies,” Akanni said.
The duo of Deji Aliu and Uchenna Emedolu agreed. “Producing an Olympics medallist within one year is possible,” they said.